This could have big implications for youth ministry in our churches.
One of the great things about the Presbyterian Church is that we believe in the Priesthood of all believers. It means that everyone in our church can have their say. A team of people got asked last year to review the way our church does theological and leadership training. They have recently presented their report to Presbyteries and are currently asking for feedback so they can prepare their final report for General Assembly next year.
The team is recommending a number of things, including making changes to the way ministers are trained, what happens when a minister comes from a Presbyterian Church overseas or from another denomination, there are also some changes to the Presbyterian Research Centre, all of which you can give feedback on.
We wanted to highlight a couple of the recommendations as they may affect you as a youth leader. They are proposing to create a second tier of ordination below the minister. They would call such people deacons, and would have titles such as Youth Pastor. To become a Deacon there would be a lower entry level than for ministers, there would also be a shorter internship, and there would be a graduated training scheme if the deacon then decided to become a minister later on.
We are sure the team will receive much feedback from ministers and elders, but we think it is important for youth leaders to give feedback to this proposal as well because it affects youth workers and youth leaders. Whether you support it or not, it will be helpful for the team to hear your opinions
In the video below the team present an overview of the report, we have set the video to start with the 2 minutes related to the proposal about deacons, but you can go back to the start and watch the entire video.
Text in Red is directly from the report. In the Executive Summary it names 5 major streams coming out of the recommendations. Here are the two affecting youth workers.
2. We are suggesting the establishment for a new Diaconate which will replace LOM as a flexible second tier of ordained ministry. The Diaconate will have lower entry barriers and will be open to youth and other recognised ministries. We expect that a number of Deacons will also go on to become Ministers through a graduated training scheme.
4. We are suggesting retaining the core of the internship as an excellent model, but also making some simplifications and changes in delivery so as to provide for the incorporation of Deacons into a mini- internship and Ministers from other churches into a micro-internship.
The report then has 30 pages or findings from the teams research which are worth looking at. In their general survey, the themes that related to youth are:.
4. Youth: There was a real concern about the aging of the PCANZ, and a loss of youth. There was a repeated emphasis on ministry to children and youth. There were comments about reducing the average age of leaders and making our calling attractive and accessible to younger leaders. “All our leaders need ongoing training to be able to relate to children and youth.” We heard that “if we recognize there are different age cultures in our church, we need to recognize that all our Ministers need to be able to connect with those different age cultures and especially youth and children, not segmenting that work to someone else.” There was a call for ordaining youth pastors, and with some extra training seeing them transform into our current ordained role. We also heard a cry to improve the pay-scale and terms of employment for youth workers. There was feedback to recognize other specialist roles also. “We need to inspire and mentor young people to become Ministers.”
From the Presbyteries they heard:
We need ordained pathways for Children’s and Youth ministries in order to resource our churches better.
We need ways to train and recognise lay leaders and lay ministry and consider ordained children’s and youth leaders.
When the group looked at the current practice in regards to Youth and other recognised ministries they said:
We have heard a cry for a better career structure for youth workers, and a pathway for progressive vocational growth. This call for training youth and other recognised ministries has been heard for many years now and was reflected in the 2008 review of the school of ministry. In Dr Rae’s report streams of training for youth workers were envisaged. The church currently provides specific youth work training through PYM and we hear a call for further coherence of training and a clearer pathway through training.
So taking into account what they heard, the group had the following conclusions:
Youth and other Recognised Ministries 13. There is a need to mark-out, but not necessarily provide pathways for career development for those individuals who feel a call to specialised ministries such as youth, children and families, music and worship, and pastoral care. 14. People who work in specialised ministries for 3 to 5 years could benefit from ordination by their Presbytery to a diaconate with the title of Pastor. 15. The LOM pathway would incorporate into the diaconate pathway. 16. A deaconate pathway could incorporate a discernment phase, a training phase, and a miniinternship.
Ministers (National & Local) 17. LOM should be replaced with a second tier of ordination (Deacon) with a reduced scope and a reduced expectation of pre-ordination study. 18. We value an educated clergy, but we need to be more nimble and able to quickly deploy new workers with lower academic qualifications. 19. Ordination to a diaconate with the title of ‘Pastor’, could enable the replacement of LOM with a more functional and theologically coherent alternative. 20. A Deacon might oversee one ministry and a Minister with a higher level of training should oversee a wider range of ministries. Deacons would be able to preach and administer both sacraments. 21. A simplification of internship could be beneficial to the NOM pathway, some Deacons may go on to become Ministers.
You may read the report and think “this is awesome, it would be great for my sense of calling to be recognised through ordination”. Or perhaps you have some concerns about the proposals. Either way, we encourage you to give feedback.
Each Presbytery has a different format for giving feedback. We suggest your contact your Presbytery to find out how. The time frame is short also, probably by 12 August
The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand adopted the Living wage at GA2012 as the minimum an employee should be paid. The Living wage is currently set at $21.15. This is the minimum amount any lay ministry staff member should be paid.
In addition to the current living wage, it is recommended churches take into account qualifications, experience, responsibility and their location when determining the pay.
It is hoped that the pay scale will encourage lay ministry workers to work longer for churches and to get better qualified.
It is recommended once employed, the lay ministry worker should be reviewed annually, with an increase in salary set on 1 July based on the Labour Cost Index to March, issued by the Department of Statistics.
Origin events are put on by Word of Life ministries, these events would be great for our evangelical churches. The vision for these events is that young people would step out in faith and invite their ‘unsaved’ friends so they can hear the Gospel.
This is what Word of Life says about these events.
“ORIGIN is a wild, crazy night of fun for youth, full of loads of activities where teenagers can go free-for-all and choose how they want to pack their night! Every teen that attends is bound to have an absolute blast! More than that, it is an exciting opportunity for them to hear the Gospel!”
Do you have a heart for what God can do among youth, and among those at the edges of society? Island Bay Presbyterian has a joint Youth Pastor/Youth Work position for 14-16 hours a week working in with a team of staff and volunteers to disciple our church youth, but with the main focus on being part of our community development project in local supported housing complexes. We are seeking someone who can work alone and with others, who can plan activities and relate well to teens and tweens, who can be a regular presence in our faith community, and who is comfortable with people of different cultures and backgrounds. For more info and the job description, contact Rev Nathan on 021 040 8323 / minister@IBPC.org.nz
The United Nations, since 2000, has declared 12 August as International Youth Day (IYD). This is to raise awareness about the issues young people in different countries care about the most. Youth organizations and organizations working with young people are invited to highlight the efforts of young people in creating a better world.
The World Council of Churches has put together an International Youth Day Toolkit to help youth workers prepare our churches to engage in youth issues.